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Is It Illegal to Join Anonymous?

It is not illegal to join Anonymous because you cannot join. Officially, there is nothing to join, although the collective does provide instructions on joining.

Confused? That's because you're supposed to be. Anonymous is a collective of computer coders, hackers, protesters, and geeks who are loosely linked on the web and are, well, anonymous. They do not use their real names. But Anonymous does instruct on affiliation, and following these instructions is not illegal per se.

Is Plagiarism a Crime?

It's exam season, and many students out there will be tempted to pass off someone else's term paper as their own. And in the Internet age, copying and pasting has made plagiarism even easier. At the same time, Google searches have made catching plagiarists easier as well. So if you get caught plagiarizing someone else's work, are you going to jail?

Well, that depends on the context -- what were you plagiarizing and why? What were you trying to do with the plagiarized work? If you were trying to score an "A" on an exam, maybe not. If you were trying to score a job, maybe so. Let's take a look:

Florida is famous for, among other things, its expansive Sunshine Laws, some of the most permissive in the country when it comes to access to public records. That's why you get so many amazing mugshots to go with those weird Florida Man stories.

But these are just people who've been arrested. What if they didn't do it? What if they're never convicted of a crime, and their mugshots are now up on the Internet forever? How is it legal for states and police departments (and private companies) to publish mugshots before a person is declared guilty?

A female student diversity officer at the University of London has been charged with making racially motivated malicious communications after she tweeted using the hashtag #killallwhitemen. Bahar Mustafa, who works in the Students' Union of Goldsmiths, allegedly used the hashtag on her since-deleted Twitter account.

Mustafa had sparked a controversy by asking straight white men not to attend an event for black and ethnic minority students in April. She's now facing a possible six months in jail for the tweets.

The web is celebrated for cultivating an increased sense of connection. But a new study shows that added online access leads to more fracturing in real life. Racially charged hate crimes go up as broadband access expands.

But there is a very important caveat. The correlation between increased internet access and spikes in hate crimes is much stronger in places that are already racially segregated, according to academics from NYU's Stern School of Business and the University of Minnesota. "Counties that have higher racial tendencies tend to have a higher effect," study co-author Jason Chan told Ars Technica.

Homeless Man Scammed by Fake Lease on Craigslist

A homeless man in Memphis, trying to get back on his feet, got a bittersweet taste of the milk of human kindness after he fell for a scam ad on Craigslist and was saved by a sympathetic landlord. Anthony Owens found an apartment listed online and met with an impostor apartment owner, turning over a $100 deposit fee to the stranger.

Owens had been living in a friend's van, but when he tried to move in to his newly rented apartment, lease in hand, he discovered he had no apartment or contract after all. The man Owens thought was his new landlord was a deadbeat tenant, according to Glenda Glinsey, the actual property owner.

Has someone hacked your computer? Did someone steal your password? You probably have Alex Yucel and his Blackshades malware to blame.

The co-creator of malware technology has been sentenced to prison for hacking after pleading guilty earlier this year.

Last week, a woman was groped on a Brooklyn, NY subway. That might have been the end of the story, but instead, she took a photo of the man with her cell phone and gave it to police, who in turn gave it to the press. Now the article is being shared on Facebook and Twitter, and the perpetrator is more likely to be found than if the victim had only given officers a vague physical description.

The NYPD has been famous for using social media to fight crime. (Or infamous, depending on your perspective.) But the department is merely reflecting what citizens are doing more and more for themselves -- utilizing technology and social media to prevent crime and catch criminals.

First Target, then Home Depot, now, everybody's favorite government agency, the IRS has been attacked by data thieves.

The IRS has admitted this week that 100,000 taxpayer files have been accessed by hackers in the last couple months. While 100,000 people is a small amount compared to the millions affected by Target's data breach, this theft is more worrisome because of how the thieves got the information.

Three years ago, Amanda Todd killed herself.

She was relentlessly harassed and bullied online. A man she met on Facebook charmed her into flashing her topless body to him. He took a picture and put it on the Internet where it went viral. Since then, Todd endured endless bullying and teasing. On October 10, 2012, she couldn't put up with the bullying and harassment any more and committed suicide.

Three years later, many people like Amanda are still victims of online harassment and bullying every day. Even celebrities are fair game. So what can you do to fight back against online harassment?